Avs missing in action

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

As the Colorado Avalanche turned in that terrible performance on Thursday, a guy had to wonder how much longer Joel Quenneville should last in Denver as head coach.

Say all you want about the artistry and flash of the Detroit Red Wings but most of the Avalanche mailed in their last effort of the season.

Former Oiler Ryan Smyth was missed. So were all the other injured guys but lack of effort was easy to spot. In my view, Quenneville is a good coach but it was obvious midway through the first period that the statute of limitations has run out on him.

Before long the Leafs will have to name a new bench boss. Why not this guy? He played for them and his record is much better than Paul Maurice's ever was.

FRANZEN-MANIA

Wings marksman Johan Franzen deserves the surreal level of attention that has bombarded him throughout the playoffs. Not every day does a Gordie Howe record get wiped out.

Every time I see Franzen, I think of soccer - not hockey.

The man is a pure striker. He only touches the puck when he's so close to the rival goaltender that they could share a sweater.

COME BACK SEAN ...

I don't know why, but I believe Sean Fleming will be back with the Eskimos before the end of the coming season.

If the Green-and-Gold operate the way most other CFL franchises do, they'll fall in love with a kicker's raw power at training camp. It happens all the time.

As soon as the banging starts for real, consistency becomes the most important arrow in any kicker's quiver. Fleming, age and all, will be invited to share some tricks with his named successor and will impress head coach Danny Maciocia enough to get the familiar call: Come back, Sean! Come back!

That's Sean, not Shane. And he will.

BAD BREAKS

If any group gets more bad breaks than Edmonton's sprint-racing colony, I can't imagine it.

Sean Moran, Wade Fleming, the on-again, off-again Jeff Hodgson and all the other speedsters were scheduled for a weekend of testing and tuning, but couldn't fit themselves around our routinely-lousy spring weather.

They were set to prepare themselves and their machines a week and were all lined up to start racing last night.

Nope. Didn't happen. Track conditions at Castrol Raceway were so bad that the speedsters knew as early as Wednesday that they couldn't start as planned.

It's only reasonable that high-profile events such as the Rocky Mountain Nationals and the retitled Champ Car extravaganza get most of the motorsport attention around here, but the sprint-car guys deserve a break.

They race hard whenever possible and don't make a lot of money. Almost none, in fact.

Now that Denny Miller is in charge of both the drag strip and the oval, communication with the public might improve.

The weather? Not a chance. This is Alberta.


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